The Swathi Sangeetotsavam brought together different banis and styles of music in paying homage to Swati Tirunal.
The annual week-long Swati Sangeetotsavam this year too was a celebration of the music of the royal composer Swati Tirunal. Musicians from different banis and streams of music paid homage to the genius of Swati. It was also an occasion to listen to some rare numbers and relive the sweetness of popular Swati compositions.
Sanjay Subrahmanian along with Nagai Muralidharan (violin) Patri Satishkumar (mridangam), Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatam) and Payyannoor Govindaprasad (morsing) began the fete with a superb concert to a packed audience.
Sanjay's charged, energetic recital started with a swara-enriched ‘Paripalayamam' and he followed it up with a piece in Nalinakanthi. A brisk ‘Paripalaya sarasiruha' in Panthuvarali was followed by a comparatively sedate ‘Paripahi' in Mohanam and ‘Anandavalli' in Neelambari. The main was a not-oft-heard ‘Sarasa sama mridu' in raga Gourimanohari. A charged taniavarthanam paved the way to a melodic ‘Reenamadanutha' in Behag and a thillana in Anandabhairavi.
After the fireworks on the first day, flautist Balasai's concert was a gentle shower of melody. He was accompanied by M.A.Sundareswaran (violin), Mannargudi Eshwaran (mridangam), Vaikkom Gopalakrishnan (ghatam) and Govindaprasad (morsing). He tuned in with the popular ‘Paramapurusham.' ‘Mamavasada janani' in Kanada, ‘Sarasaksha' in Panthuvarali and ‘Padmanabha pahi' in Hindolam were played in quick succession. He took ‘Kripayapalaya' in Charukesi as the main. Swati's Hindustani compositions such as ‘Vishwashwar,' ‘Aaj aaye…' and the thillana in Dhanasri were played evocatively.
In the company of Mahadeva Sharma (violin), Babu (mridangam), Uduppi Srikanth (ganjira), Kartick (ghatam) and Kottayam Murali (morsing), Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna's concert took off with a varnam in Madhyamavathi and he adorned it with the appropriate swaras. ‘Kamajanaka' in Goula and ‘Narasimha mamava' in Arabhi was followed by a serene ‘Palaya madhava' in Asaveri. An elaborate raga alapana heralded Shahana and the kriti ‘Jaya Jaya Raghuramam.' The main piece was ‘Adrisutha' in Kalyani. After an excellent tani, Balamuralikrishna sang ‘Jagadisha…' and ‘Bhaja bhaja manasa.' Technically and musically, Balamuralikrishna cannot be faulted but one wishes he paid the same attention to lyrics and also infused a sense of repose, at least, in a few pieces.
The fourth day belonged to Rama Varma. His clear diction, apt selection of kritis and sruti-shuddha rendering delighted the listeners. Beginning his vocal concert with the Kambhoji Ata tala varnam ‘Sarasijanabha,' he proceeded to sing it in different speeds before taking up a serene ‘Jaya Jaya Padmanabha' in Sarsangi. Then came a devout and elegant ‘Bhavathi Viswaso...,' a lovely piece in Mukhari that is one of the Navavidha Bhakthi compositions of Swati.
A crackling ‘Parama Purusham' paved the way for a scintillating rendition of ‘Rama Rama Guna seema' in Simhendramadhyam, which was preceded by an elaborate raga alapana and thanam. S. Vinu (violin), B. Harikumar (mridangam), Karthik (ghatam), Aniruddh Athreya (ganjira) and Sai Subramaniam (morsing) accompanied. A melting ‘Saraseeruha…' in Deesakshi was followed by a sweet ‘Aliveni' and ‘Jamuna Kinare…' Vinu and Harikumar were in top form throughout the concert.
Mavelikkara P. Subramaniam's concert on the fifth day was a judicious blend of rare and familiar kritis. Beginning with ‘Saami…, ' a Telegu padavarnam in Yadukulakamboji, he went on to sing ‘Deva deva Kalayami…,' one of the most heard of Swati compositions. But the way Subramaniam sang spoke volumes of his erudition and understanding of the lyrics. Right from the way he began the kriti with ‘Charanamabuja sevanam, Deva deva…' and the niraval that was sung at ‘Thitijali Vithalana Deena Bandu Mamava..,' it was a totally fresh interpretation that he rendered.
Same was the case with ‘Padmanabha Pahim' in Hindolam. The main piece was in Kalyani, the Navaratri kriti ‘Pahimam Sri Vagheeswari,' which is sung on the second day. ‘Gopala' in Bageshri and a lyrical ‘Sir Ramachandran' in Useni, popularised by Musiri, was sung well with a lot of attention on the lyrics. He was accompanied by Thiruvizha S. Anand (violin), Palakkad Mahesh Kumar (mridangam), Anirudh Athreya (ganjira) and Sai Subramaniam (morsing).
Display of vocal prowess
Pandit Venkatesh Kumar's concert on the sixth day was a much-awaited one by rasikas in Kerala. However a bad throat forced him to cut short his concert by nearly an hour. But the little he sang showcased his vocal prowess and musicality. ‘Jai Jai Devi, Jai saraswathy…' in Puryakalyan set the mood of the concert. Next came a soulful piece in raga Surat, which had shades of raga Desh in it, and a delightful Behag. While the audience was longingly waiting for more, Venkatesh Kumar chose to conclude the evening with a sparkling ‘Krishna chandra Radha Manomohana' piece in Bhairavi (Sindhubhairavi in Carnatic).
The Swati fete this year came to an end with a chaste recital by Seetha Rajan. Shorn of any unnecessary flamboyance, her aesthetically rich recital highlighted how pristine music does not need any frills to satiate an audience.
While violinist Charulatha Ramanujam beautifully shadowed her, the percussionists J. Vaidhyanathan (mridangam) and Uduppi Sridhar (ghatam) also did a good job. Her recital began with ‘Pahi Shoure' in Natta and next came ‘Panchabana' in Poorvikalyani. She chose ‘Sarasijanabha Murare' in Thodi as the main. ‘Kinthu cheyvu,' a padam in Kalyani, was sung clearly and it showcased what a stickler she is for perfection. Although Seetha Rajan is not a Malayali, her perfect enunciation of each word was a pleasure to listen to. ‘Kanka Maya mayidum' in Huseni was also rendered well. The curtain came down on the fete with a bhajan ‘Bhajath Murali' in Sindhu Bhairavi.